Toronto grocer David Chen, who chased, bound and confined a repeat shoplifter in the back of a delivery van last year, has been found not guilty of assault and forcible confinement, after a trial that his many supporters felt never should have happened.
Mr. Chen, 37, along with his employees Qing Li and Jie Chen, were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in apprehending Anthony Bennett, a 52-year-old career criminal and drug addict, on May 23, 2009. That day, Mr. Bennett stole $72 worth of plants from Mr. Chen’s Lucky Moose Food Market, then returned an hour later to steal more, prompting his pursuit and capture.
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After the verdict, Mr. Chen thanked his supporters while surrounded by a crush of reporters.
“I feel very, very good,” he said.
The prosecution, which leaned heavily on accounts from witnesses who watched in shock as Mr. Bennett was hogtied and wrestled into the van, had argued Mr. Chen and his colleagues went way over the line between reasonable protection of property and criminal vigilantism.
But Peter Lindsay, lawyer for the three men, successfully argued that Mr. Bennett – whose record of 43 convictions, many for theft, reaches back more than 30 years – was the only criminal involved in the incident, and that Mr. Chen responded reasonably each time the thief escalated his bid to evade capture.
More to come
Toronto grocer acquitted in citizen’s-arrest case – The Globe and MailIn Canada on October 29, 2010 at 13:33